Edmund Jacobson gave us Progressive Relaxation to calm our minds through quieting our muscles. In his life-long process of refining Progressive Relaxation he found a profound, rapid, and easy way for getting control of two disturbing activities that we all have: inner chatter and troubling inner visions. These two processes keep us up at night, locks us in negative ruminations, and blasting ourselves with visions of past events or worries about the future. If we can get free or at least reduce their influence, our stress levels will plunge and we will naturally move into rest and into positivity.
How to Quiet Inner Chatter
When we chat to ourselves in our heads, we actually use many of the same muscles we use to speak out loud. Talking is so well practiced that we tighten throat, tongue, and facial ways that are unconscious until we learn to spot their movement. Try this: take a minute or more to completely relax your jaw and your tongue. Really relax them. Now introduce some strong thoughts. If you take enough time relaxing the tongue, engaging inner chatter, relaxing, etc. it will become apparent that Jacobson was onto something. Next try relaxing the tongue and then bring in milder thoughts. This is more subtle, but small movement or tightness can be felt on a portion of the tongue.
Jacobson found he could quiet the mind by reversing the brain-muscle process. If he could get muscles to quiet (relax), this would cause the brain to notice and would respond by quieting. So, when being bugged by pesky inner critics or endless self-chatter, rather than engaging with that chatter to try to get it be quiet, go through the following relaxation process. Quiet muscles will lead to a quiet(er) mind.
1. Relax your tongue; relax your lips; relax your jaw; relax the front of your throat outside and work your way inside; relax the muscles that link your throat down to the top of your chest. Repeat the process as many times as you can to quiet the mind. Once you get to a good quiet condition, enjoy and rest.
2. Repeat this whole process several times until you find inner chatter has decreased or even disappeared.
3. Do keep some awareness on your tongue. Tension in your tongue will give you the first clue that inner chatter is starting to creep back in.
How to Dim Troubling Inner Visions
Using the same, reverse brain-muscle relationship process, when troubled by too many or disturbing visualizations, do this:
1. Relax the muscles of your forehead; relax the muscles around your eyes including your eyelids; relax the muscles of your eyes.
2. Repeat this whole process several times until you find your inner visions have decreased or even disappeared.
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Practice, practice, practice this very simple but powerful technique so it is always available to you when you need it. Especially give it a try each night as you prepare for sleep. Also try for breaks at work.
Thank you, again, Dr. Edmund Jacobson.